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Patrick Brogan

USTelecom Industry Metrics and Trends 2020: The Broadband Boom


USTelecom today released its Industry Metrics and Trends 2020 report highlighting key elements of the broadband boom and investment story.

Over the last quarter century, through extraordinary investments amounting to more than $1.7 trillion, U.S. broadband providers have led the transition from legacy communications networks to modern broadband and mobile networks.

Consumers and the economy have benefited from near-nationwide deployment of multiple networks with ever-expanding reach, capacity, and quality. Among the most significant achievements of our current broadband era is widespread facilities-based competition among networks, which creates a self-sustaining cycle of investment and innovation.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took steps to bring more broadband to rural and unserved parts of the country. Tomorrow, USTelecom will weigh in explaining why the FCC should no longer mandate so-called network unbundling, a relic from a different (and far less competitive) era.

Internet data traffic is rising and demand will continue to grow as far as we can project. And while we have made much progress to speed the build-out of these next generation broadband networks and continue to narrow the digital divide, we need:

  • A modern, light-touch regulatory environment suitable for a competitive, innovative, and technologically dynamic industry.
  • Support for sustainable facilities-based competition to incentivize competitive investment wherever feasible and subsidies targeted efficiently to unserved areas.

Sound policies that encourage investment will help maintain U.S. international broadband leadership and ensure the benefits of information-technology innovations flow to all Americans.

Key highlights from the USTelecom Industry Metrics and Trends 2020:

Consumers and providers have made the transition from legacy voice to broadband and mobile communications services.

  • A projected 84 percent of American households (109 million households) will subscribe to fixed broadband by the end of 2020.
  • Wireless will account for 79 percent of voice connections by 2020 while traditional phone lines will account for 4 percent.
  • Six percent of U.S. households will use traditional telephone lines at the end of 2020 while 65 percent will be wireless-only and 29 percent Internet-based voice service, mostly from cable operators.
  • Traditional switched telephone subscriptions fell from a peak of 186 million in 2000 to a projected 24 million in 2020.

Nearly all Americans have networks available to them, and providers have deployed increasingly fast broadband services.

  • As of mid-2018, 98.6 percent of Americans have access to a fixed network; 99.8 percent have access to a mobile network; and satellite is available to nearly all consumers.

  • As of mid-2018, 94 percent of Americans could get fixed broadband at 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload (25/3 Mbps) or greater; 90 percent at 100/10 Mbps or greater; and more than two-thirds (and growing) at near-gigabit speeds.

Competition and technological innovation define the broadband communications industry.

  • Two or more fixed networks are available to 91 percent of Americans and two or more wired networks are available to 86 percent of Americans. The numbers are even higher in urban areas, where USTelecom analysis shows that 97 percent have a choice of two or more fixed networks.
  • Three or more mobile networks are available to 98 percent of Americans.
  • The portion of Americans that could choose from two or more wired broadband networks at 10/1 Mbps or greater grew from 53 percent of Americans in 2012 to 72 percent as of mid-2018.
  • The portion of Americans that could choose from two or more wired broadband networks at 25/3 Mbps or greater grew from 23 percent of Americans in 2012 to 59 percent as of mid-2018.

The U.S. is an international broadband leader.

  • From 2003 to 2015, U.S. broadband providers invested $245 per capita, 1.6 times as much as the $151 average among the industrialized nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
  • The U.S. generates more Internet Protocol traffic per capita than other industrialized nations and its lead is growing.

While the U.S. has made significant progress in deploying and utilizing broadband, challenges remain and the need to invest in expanding and upgrading networks is constant.

  • The gap between urban and rural fixed broadband deployment at 10/1 Mbps fell from 21 percentage points to 10 percentage points from mid-2015 to mid-2018.
  • The gap between urban and rural fixed broadband deployment at 25/3 Mbps fell from 37 percentage points to 24 percentage points from mid-2015 to mid-2018.
  • U.S. Internet Protocol traffic is projected to grow 2.6 times, or a compounded annual rate of 21 percent, from 39 Exabytes per month in 2017 to 102 Exabytes per month in 2022 (Cisco VNI).

Read the full USTelecom Industry Metrics and Trends 2020 report.